The accuser in the child rape case involving a popular local pastor wants the pastor’s attorney off the case because she believes the attorney could be a witness.
The accuser said as an adult she dated one of Pastor Bryan Fulwider’s attorneys.
According to an arrest affidavit, the woman said Fulwider started grooming her at 13 and then raped her more than 100 times from 14 to 18 years old. The woman came forward last week.
Police said they have a controlled phone call where Fulwider admitted to being intimate with the woman when she was underage.
In an 11-page motion, the woman’s attorney writes this is a “crystal-clear example of impropriety” regarding attorney Jacob Stuart and the woman's relationship. But Stuart told Channel 9 reporter Cierra Putman that he has no plans of stepping down and characterizes the motion as "frivolous and made in bad faith."
The woman filed a motion to disqualify the defense counsel that said:
“Mr. Stuart was in an intimate, romantic relationship with the victim in this matter for approximately two years during the period of delay in reporting.”
It also said the attorney and the woman met at the First Congregational Church of Winter Park, the same place where the woman met Fulwider when she was a child.
In 2005, Fulwider was the senior pastor of the church.
The motion states Fulwider knew of the woman's relationship with Stuart because they met at the church, stating the defendant "counseled the victim" on the relationship at the time and was "demanding details of every aspect and (Fulwider) became angry as the relationship became more serious."
In an interview with Channel 9, Stuart said the accuser was never his "ex-girlfriend," despite the motion filed by the woman stating her relationship with Stuart was the "first serious, consensual relationship the victim ever had."
Stuart said the relationship was “romantic,” but also a “brief and casual, non-serious relationship.”
Stuart said he is not stepping down because Fulwider trusts and needs him. He said he wants the victim's motion thrown out on procedural grounds.
WFTV legal analyst Bill Sheaffer said in 40 years, he's never seen a situation like this.
"The fact that this lawyer could be a witness in this case is a very significant factor as to whether or not this lawyer should stay on the case or not," Sheaffer said.
Stuart told Channel 9 he contacted the Florida Bar's hotline. Channel 9 learned the Bar advised Stuart it would be best to get his client's consent, and they also discussed disqualification based on the "appearance of impropriety."
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